Archive | April, 2010

Danger Will Robinson Danger! – Social Media wants ALL your Contacts

26 Apr

Do you ever get so busy that your multitasking thwarts the high productivity we’re trying to gain?  I confess that I’m a chronic multi-tasker (I never have just one window open on my PC).  But, I do realize the importance and value of concentrating on one task at a time when I need to get it done right the first time. Over the years, I’ve suffered the consequences that a lack of focus can cause in terms of unintended outcomes and rework.

Last week, I tripped myself up yet again when I found yet another social media site that is overly zealous about exploiting my multi-tasking tendencies. These sites offer to check your address book (with permission) to find out those who are already using the site so that you can increase your own network with people you already know.  Not a bad thing at all.  However,  when you hand-select those in the list who you want to connect with, the next screen does something insidiously genius (on the part of the site’s marketing efforts) and really ought to be labeled the “DANGER WILL ROBINSON DANGER” screen.  You’ve assumed that they have invited those who already use the site to connect with you, and this screen looks extremely similar to the previous one (where you did your choice) and asks you to approve the wording on an email composes on your behalf.

I assumed that this email was intended for those I hand-selected, but as soon as I hit “next”, I realized that the site was sending emails to everyone else who was not already a member of the site! The almost identical screen had redisplayed the list of my contacts but had now completed a check box on the names of  EVERYONE ELSE!  This included my ex-husband, competitors, anyone who I’ve ever sent or received an email from in the past.  AND there is no undo or stop button!

Last year this happened to me with TripIt.com (danger Will Robinson danger!) and the latest offender was one of my favorites:  Skype!

So a word of caution to any of you who think it might be safe to multi-task when adding contacts to a social media site (I was on the phone – shame on me!) — Danger Will Robinson Danger !  If you want to safeguard your contacts and do not want to INVITE all – be very cautious of the second screen.

Today I don’t use TripIt.com at all because it now connects me with people with whom I do NOT want to exchange my itinerary information (and accidentally allowed TripIt to invite!)

Wishing you a highly productive week!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Women in Technology – Novelty or Mainstay?

19 Apr

I attended a unique conference on the weekend for techies (our name badges had the slogan “You might be a techie if…”) called Barcamp – and sessions were ad hoc for the most part and arranged depending on who attended. The concept of creating a conference on the fly might sound disorganized or unplanned, but it was one of the most innovative and educational days I’ve spent in a long time.

One of the reasons I attended was that I was invited by the Barcamp Sarasota lead organizer, Sara Hand, to be on a panel of Women in Technology.  It was a great discussion involving both men and women that spanned generations (all five generations now in the workplace were represented) and included multiple ethnicities.  Students from the Sarasota high school where it was held joined in to talk about their experiences in technology and seasoned veteran business owners in their 60’s (and younger) were also involved.

We talked about the challenges, opportunities, strides, and experiences that face us all today regardless of race, gender, creed or culture with the ongoing “flattening” of the technology world.

It was interesting to find the following NY Times article link in my inbox this morning on the very topic of Women in Technology — describing how a seasoned and highly qualified female technology company owner in Silicon Valley faced serious and biased discrimination when she sought financing for a start-up business.

Titled Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley – the article provides an up-to-date and somewhat disappointing report on how gender inequality still resides in technology.

What’s your opinion?  Have you seen, been a part of, or experienced such a situation?  I know that the percentage of women entering engineering and computer science is as low as its been for decades, but somehow I “assumed” that things were changing.  Do you think that women in technology are still a novelty or are we a mainstay today?

Let me know what you’ve seen!

Wishing you a successful unbiased week.

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

The Change Cocktail: 1 Part Focus plus 2 Parts Subconscious

17 Apr

Change, not chaos, is the natural state and more and more Americans are hiring coaches and executive trainers to take them to “the next level” in becoming all that they can be.  Self-improvement, change for the better, baby steps to a better life, etc. are all great things to do and when life hands us lemons, we know we can wince at the juice but it’s making lemonade that really changes lives.   Change can happen with behavior (overcoming bad habits), thought patterns (new ways of responding to life), or attitudes (and outlooks) — and despite the long term benefits, the ride is not always comfortable.

Change is like a Cocktail: 1 part focus plus 2 parts subconscious.

The 1st step once you’ve decided to change is to take action and focus on what behavior or attitude we want to change.  It typically takes 30 days of conscious, dedicated effort to change a habit (think smoking, exercise, negative thinking) and sometimes it takes several restarts before anything seems to happen. Once we feel like we’ve made progress and the change feels permanent, we often take it for granted — and lose sight of the fact that the change must become part of our psyche.  If change doesn’t take root in our heads it’s because we’ve only completed part of the cocktail and we need to mix in 2 parts subconscious.

Does this happen to you?  As soon as I feel that I’ve made some change in my life, something happens ( a thought, a reaction, an attitude) that jolts me into the reality that its not yet part of my psyche.  I find myself reacting in old ways when my guard is down. Any permanent change has to come with one part focus and two parts subconscious.  (Many coaching books today recommend acting the way you want to be until you truly feel it.  The conscious part is the acting, the unconscious part is having it take root in your subconscious until the new behavior becomes automatic.)

Let me illustrate with an example : One of the changes I’ve been making is to really  listen to my inner voice.  For far too long, I’d let others’ assertions overrule what my own inner voice would tell me. Years ago when my then spouse didn’t agree with my telling of an event (even where he wasn’t there), he was emphatic that my perception was wrong.  After years of this, it became easier to simply accept his version (and often find out later that I was right) than to fight. Eventually, I didn’t even hear my inner voice and I’d simply take his word as the reality (Hmmm… wasn’t this something like Stepford Wives.)

Robert Fludd's depiction of perception (1619).

Robert Fludd's depiction of perception (1619).

I’ve made conscious focused progress (that’s the 1st part) and think that the change is permanent until something happens like it did this week. A colleague from overseas asked me if I could book him a car for a stay he’s planning in the US. He sent me the itinerary and I sent him the reservation.  When he questioned why I booked the rental for two days longer than he would be in the US, my 1st response was the old way:  I apologized for “my error” even though I thought it was not.  When I checked the itinerary he sent, it was he who told me the wrong dates and had nothing to do with a wrong perception. It was then that I realized how ingrained was the old habit of acquiescing to another’s opinion over my own.  The 2 parts subconscious takes longer to change. Going forward, I need to watch for this automatic reaction and think before reacting.  I know now that I have a true voice that tells me the truth – as long as I listen to it.

I am learning that I am right at least 50% of the time (what a relief that it’s not the 5%   that my ex would attest) and that I have to affirm my ground in the face of adversity.  The change in my way of thinking brings great power and when the change takes root in my subconscious I know that I’ll again have the strength of my convictions.

At this halfway point in my life, I only need to look inward to know what is true in thinking and feeling.  After years of being told that I was crazy, this is a beautiful thing!

So bring on the change cocktail – and make mine 1 part focus and 2 parts subconscious — shaken (so to speak), but not stirred.  I wish successful changes on you – to become consciously and subconsciously the best that you can be.

Regards,

Carol

Carol Dekkers, human being, software metrics and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Social Media – Friend or Foe?

13 Apr

Social Media (the term used collectively for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Naymz, Ning, even Second Life) has gone “viral” (meaning out-of-control with “hits”).  Did you know that if Facebook was a country it would be the 3rd largest in the world?  And, that it is unremarkable when a teen racks up tens of thousands of text messages on their cell phone a month, yet may be grounded all the while they are texting and tweeting?

facebookIt was interesting to read in the St. Petersburg Times about a reporter who “Unfriended Facebook“.  Yes, you heard me right – she defriended (quit) Facebook outright.  Her rationale came down to that the fake relationships Facebook garnered represented a lazy person’s way of making friends, and she found herself neglecting her real life relationships.

Can you imagine life without social media?  Can you remember what it was like not to be tweeted at, friended (and defriended), connected, tagged, blogged to, linked-in to networks, groups, and invited to join hundreds of fan-clubs (pages) and attend a myriad of events – not even in your geographic area.

It is seldom these days to get phone calls on my home phone from anyone but solicitors or to talk to anyone in person without e-mail confirmation, e-vites, or texting.  And, what happens when it all does NOT work together?  What happens when an e-vite (email invitation) doesn’t work and people feel rejected because an invitation isn’t delivered?  Or when a text message is delayed (sometimes for days)?  Or when voicemails don’t register or the caller id fails?  When any of these things happen, we are so tied up in the e-world that we can end up reacting or feeling something when there was nothing to react to.  In the past, we’d call people on the phone when we’re feeling neglected or rejected to ask about a potentially waylaid piece of mail or a potential missed phone call. And often we’d be relieved to find out that our imaginations created a situation that simply wasn’t.  Mail got misdelivered, phone calls were missed, answering machines failed. It’s just life as humans.

But, with social media we forget that it too is faulty.  Texts don’t always come through (even when the sender gets a “confirmation of delivery”), voicemail and emails get corrupted, cell phones go out of range (too often) – and yet we collectively don’t confirm our assumptions with technology.

So, do you think social media is a friend or a foe?  It all depends on whether it furthers your human relationships or strains the ones you have in real life.  If the latter, then unplug (quit the sites) for a while and see what happens. You’ll be forced to work your human magic on real life people who can talk, breathe, and listen back – and isn’t that what relationships in the real world are all about?

Have a happy week!

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.

Does “Stupid” Marketing Really Work?

11 Apr

Today is one of those days when I’m fed up with “infomercials” telling me that I’m stupid in my in-basket! Do any of these self-appointed experts actually earn a living by calling others stupid?  I just know that I’m done with all the hype!

Not only is tax day looming, our unemployment rates soaring, and the economy in the tank, but now we’re bombarded with emails from ego-maniacs telling us that we’re stupid if we don’t buy their shortcut methods to fame and fortune.  (If it was really this easy to make millions wouldn’t we all be doing it?)

While it used to be simple to walk by the snake-oil salesmen at the county fair (our choice to attend after all), e-mail traffic has gotten out of hand. As an international speaker, I’m accustomed to international spam, but the American version seems to have supercharged in volume in 2010.  Here’s a sampling of Sunday’s infomercials (not including those filtered out by my spam-filter):

  • 2 emails from the same author: a) How to Make Maximum Profit with Minimal Effort; and b) How to make your fortune: Did you know that every great fortune in the history of the world has followed the same simple 3 step formula? You’re crazy if you’re not applying it to your business. It’s revealed in my bestselling book …
  • Only 3% of the world does this: How can only 3% of us do this? How can something that is absolutely necessary for success, be ignored by so many people?

To listen to these flash-in-the-pan economic evangelists — if you buy their program for $997. (the magic marketing number apparently) — you’ll be rich. What I wonder is  if these are such tried and true methods, why are they still working (and not investing from a villa in the Bahamas) – and why are they so selfish as to not “give such important information” to Wall Street or the Government?   The answer is that they don’t have the answers – they seemingly are making money by chiding readers into believing them (we are stupid and they are not, blah blah blah).

How do you feel about “stupid” marketing?  Does it work on you? Have you bought a program or CD’s promising to change your life and been disappointed?  I love that there is a delete key so close at hand – but hate that it takes my effort to figure out what is real versus spam emails in my filtered in-basket.

I hope you have a good week and get over the hump-tax-due date.

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.


Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

Update on Kanban – It’s common sense for teams

9 Apr

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about trying Kanban techniques to everyday life in the hopes that I’d be more productive and achieve more output by focusing on less things at once.  I have to confess that this was an ambitious quest, one for which I was ill prepared.  I attended a Kanban for software development workshop and figured that it should (and probably could) be an easy task to apply the principles to my daily routine – kind of like thinking that a silver bullet found on the street would change my life.

It wasn’t so easy. I had my list of how I’d start using Kanban that week, and focused on the principles of flow and limiting WIP (work-in-progress).  As I continued to research Kanban (did I put the cart before the horse?), I discovered that I really needed to start with a routine or a standardized process.  And that’s not how I my days go today.

First of all, as an entrepreneur who works out of a home office with tons of email to digest every day and no set schedule (unless I am working at a client site in which case there is a structured routine), the discipline of Kanban was something that I hadn’t really examined.

Secondly, as a veteran multitasker (I’ve got 6 windows open now), it was going to take some major structural changes to adopt the Kanban principles. Yes, I realize that multi-tasking may impede maximum productivity but it works for me at this point with my business.

And, thirdly, when I am working on tasks alone (I am an independent consultant) there isn’t problem with bottlenecks like there is when working in a pipeline with teams and dependencies.  I could easily see how Kanban could simplify my workload when I had employees in my business, balanced with small children and a husband in the household (in other words a teaming environment).

The experiment, however short, was not without its merits.  I realized that by taking closer notes on what I was doing from day-to-day I started to prioritize the incoming tasks with more rigor, and focused on the important few things instead of the many trivial tasks.  I also realized that as a creative person, the multi-tasking works well for me.

I also appreciate that there are great benefits to be gained from Kanban principles when working in a team environment rife with changing priorities and moving targets, project budgets and customers awaiting software delivery.  If you are working in a team environment and finding bottlenecks and workflow challenges (nothing seems to get done on time, there’s too much rework, and too many interruptions) then I’d urge you to check out Kanban for your workplace. The costs of training are far outweighed by increased productivity and increased team morale (did you know the number one source of workplace conflict is lack of good process?)

Consult one of our own U.S. experts for Kanban training (I’d recommend my instructor and mentor David Anderson) – and let me know your results.  I’m willing to bet that your teams will performance better, your customer loyalty goes up, and your professionals are happier.

While my own personal encounters with Kanban are premature – it’s the nature of my days and my work that rendered the method not perfect for me – but in the process, I am surprised that more businesses, not-for-profits and general corporations are not yet using Kanban.  It’s the perfect, common-sense approach to simplifying your workflows and making work, well work.

Regards,
Carol

Carol Dekkers, Software Measurement and Global Software Development expert, author, speaker. Want to engage Carol to be a speaker at your next event? Email Ms. Dekkers at dekkers@qualityplustech.com or carol@caroldekkers.com or visit http://www.caroldekkers.com for details.


Copyright 2010 Carol Dekkers – All Rights Reserved ———————

Got business?

6 Apr

As a project manager / published author / international standards expert / speaker /consultant, I’ve spoken to audiences in over 25 countries.  When the economy and business were booming, life was easy and most of the professionals and people I met were upbeat and optimistic about their industries and life in general.

Unremarkably things are different these days:  businesses are closing, people are losing their homes, and relationships are strained.  Lately, I’ve been using my down time to brush up on the latest social media, blogging, project management advancements, and business development in general.  During the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a marked increase in the flood of emails celebrating the recession’s end (mostly from overseas) from colleagues looking to do software development and related business with me.

My question to you is:  got business?

In reality (i.e., real $$$) – has your business or job or industry seen such an upswing in cashflow, contracts, or activity lately? Or is it the feigned promise of an end to the recession that people are using (along the lines of the Secret: what you think becomes your reality) as optimistic thinking to “wish us” out of the recession?

Have you seen new business coming in?  I know that a lot of people are heavily invested in the “social media” sensation (Twitter, Facebook, linked in, plaxo, etc.) that is sweeping the nation – did you know that if Facebook was a country it would now be the third largest country in the world (with more people than the U.S.?) – is this where our new economy is going?

Got business?

Wishing you a productive and profitable week!

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